#‎JeSuisYemen‬

One year on, one war in between.
20 March 2015 marked the day of a great massacre in Sanaá when the al-Badr and al-Hashoosh mosques came under suicide attack during midday prayers.
142 people died and 351 were wounded.
Just a few days before the aggression from the coalition of 9 headed by Saudi Arabia started pounding our land.
Or maybe, the war started that Friday March the 20th.

One year on, one war in between: 9.000 civilians dead, almost 40.000 injured for life, an average of 9 children killed per day, infrastructure destroyed, an imposed siege blocking the life of Yemen, 2.4 million displaced, 300.000 children suffering of malnutrition, an entire country constantly being bombed, gassed, massacred, we are still here.
We have survived and are surviving in the silence of the world.
We are burying our families in bunches at a time and pray that justice will find its way.

One year on, on a sad anniversary, on Mother´s Day and war one in between, we are proud to say #JeSuisYemen.

Only the dead have seen the end of war

               A child, according to the UN principles on which the Declaration of Rights for the Child is based, should be granted the right to equality without distinction on account of race, religion or national origin, the right to special protection for the his/her physical, mental and social development, the right to a name and a nationality, to adequate nutrition, housing and medical services, to special education and treatment when physically or mentally handicapped, to understanding and love by parents and society, to recreational activities and free education, to be among the first to receive relief in all circumstances, to protection against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation, to be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, and universal brotherhood.
 
Given these 10 basic rights, we conclude that the child in the picture had certainly a name, family and nationality; he was most likely loved by his family (he is wearing a blazer, like a real Yemeni) but, because of his nationality, was killed in Bani Matar, Yemen, on Friday April 3 2015 under airstrikes of the Saudi led coalition.

We conclude that this child was not granted any of aforementioned rights: he was not loved by society, will never enjoy recreational activities, will not be provided with free education, has definitely not witnessed any spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship, universal brotherhood.

It is about time, hence, we either work full-force to implement a civilised society where wars are not the biggest industry or we stop lying to children. And to ourselves.
We must inform children that they do come to life, yes, may be given a name and a nationality and love from a family. But that is where it ends. The rest is hell as, so far, “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” (George Santayana)

Yemeni Life Has No Longer Any Meaning

Only a week from now and it willl be a full year under the Saudi-led/US-backed attacks against Yemen.
More than 10 countries joined a coalition led by Saudi Arabia with the full support of US and UK: logistically, with intelligence. They jointly chose, meticulously, the sites on the ground for the Saudis to bomb.
They lent satellites to help Saudi Arabia doing a better job.
They refueled the jets it in the air to allow maximum damage.
Warships participated in bombardments on the Yemeni coastal-line areas.
Arm deals estimated in billions of dollars – including internationally banned weapons such as cluster bombs and chemical weapons – were signed.
All the arms have been dropped on highly populated residential areas of the Yemeni capital Sana’a along with other provinces: Saada, Amran and Hajjah.
The world watched disgustingly in silence.
Roads, oil-food-water tankers, chicken and cow farms, even the centre for the visually impaired in Sanaá have been deemed a military target.
How not to mention the unjust – total siege imposed on Yemen? No food, no medicines are allowed to enter the country; same goes for petroleum products which are essential and most useful in agriculture and industry alike .
Saudi Arabia aims to starve more than 24 millions and stop any movement of people.
Electricty is the big absent in the nation´s life: it is a basic need for Yemeni simple life and the population has forgotten how the supply looks like
How do the Yemeni citizens continue their life under this hysterical bombings and destruction of their simple, beautiful life?

Mansour Mohammed Hadi (48) told us his story of an extremely difficult year coping with both the war and hepatitis: “We live in Yemen in very bad human and environmental conditions. I suffer from hepatitis and my condition gets worse with each passing day. I have moved, peregrinated from hospital to hospital looking for a medicine which cures my disease, but because of the siege imposed on Yemen, rarely I could find any of the medicines prescribed by doctors. Sometimes I am stable. Often times my condition worsens and pain becomes unberable.  Last month, when I could no longer stand the pain, I moved to the hospital. Miraculously, I have survived. Question is: how long will I continue, considering the seriousness of my case?”

Bashir Mansour Mussad (23), a college student adds his voice: “I have not been able to go to the university and complete my studies. Our jobs and activities stopped due to the aggression and siege and I couldn’t pay for my studies. Worse of all: there are no jobs available and I had to ask for money as my Dad is ill. How can I repay people back?”

Hemerr Hamoud (34), taxi driver, had his story to share about his suffering under the siege, with no gasoline to run his taxi and little food available: “I have a taxi and used to transport passengers in the streets of the capital. That was before the siege imposed by Saudi Arabia. It was already difficult at the time but after the siege I have barely been able to find enough money to feed my family. I tried to find an alternative occupation but but all my efforts have been fruitless. Lack of electricity does not help and I am sure we are going, all of us, to starve to death.”

In the same context Khalid Ahmed Musleh (30) a farmer, said: ” Actually, Yemeni farmers live the most difficult times of all because of the siege. Agriculture in Yemen depends basically on oil and our farms and crops have been damaged due to the lack of it and the high prices at the black market”

Tamim Hazza (37) employee, concluded: ” Yemeni life has no longer any meaning and value under this unjust aggression and blockade. We have been suffering for almost a year from the absence of the basic components for a decent life , starting from electricity
We live every night in complete darkness with the noise of jet fighters upon our heads, not to mention the blasts of the extensive explosions surrounding our homes. Life in Yemen has completely changed: we lost our jobs and I sit at home, now, doing nothing.”

 

With Qaseem Alshawee reporting from Sanaá for Living in Yemen on the Edge

I love the whole world and I love you too

” My dear volunteers , my dear children . 
I am a grandmother from Heraklion, Crete.
I am 87 years old and I admire you for your daily efforts to help these people who are suffering , those young ones .
I send you my best wishes and hope that the Almighty God gives you strength to help the world .
I send you these  handmade woollen caps  I knitted with all my strength and soul, to keep the children warm , even if just for a little while , the suffering children.
I love the whole world and I love you too.
All my best wishes and much but much affection
Atalanti Giakoumaki Heraklion Crete , March 8, 2016 ”

Atalanti Giakoumaki has been sending her work to many agencies helping refugees, especially those dealing with children
She loves the whole world, even us, I am sure.
Let it sink in: she is 87 and helping with strength, love and soul.

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(news circulated via Enrico Sitta, Italian blogger)

War Will Never Leave

Childhood has been stolen.
War will leave, eventually. No more war jets pounding on neighbourhoods, people rushing to volatile safety, gasping for safety.
Inside, though, it will never leave any of us. Lest, the children.
There will always be a reference to before the war and after the war. Often times we will ask: ‘Which war?’ and a specific date will be given. Because in the last 26 years or so, we have witnessed almost 10 conflicts on our land alone and you may allow us, but we do get confused.
This war though, the one started on Yemen on March 26 2015, will always be The War, the graveyard of humanity.
We sincerely hope you have a good excuse enough for not listening to our children begging for #Kefaya War, Enough War.

picture via facebook

Massacre in Hajjah, Yemen

YEMEN – MARCH 16, 2016

Another day in the UK/US/EU/ISRAEL/UN/IRAN/SAUDI governments indiscriminate war on people.
Children, women, men, blatantly murdered for a war obsessed bunch of criminals.
Yemen, Syria and Palestine are turning into graveyards for religious/political agendas that can never, ever, pave the way to Peace.
Who is responsible? There are so many religious/political factions involved that blaming one or the other means absolutely nothing, ALL parties involved are responsible for this hideous crime against humanity.
Is there a way to WORLD PEACE? Yes there is, but it won’t serve the military industrial war arsenal complex and its criminal financiers.
Worried about WWIII? This is it, it began way back long before WWI, it’s the same war, the war on people, the war against Life. It’s the greatest insanity on Earth. Why? Those in power claiming to be “World Leaders” and “Religious Leaders” cannot answer that without choking on their own perverted words.
What goes around comes around cannot happen soon enough. Murder is against the law in every country, “Law makers” and their associates cannot exempt themselves from that law, they will be haunted by the voices of their victims until they beg to die.

Bob Oort, Founder of Voices for Change peace network

Manal, a light for thousands of Yemeni disabled

Manal is in her mid-twenties, an active, passionate and smart young woman. Yemeni, she holds a University degree from the Faculty of Arts in Sanaá in English literature and, indeed, she masters perfect English. The feeling you have when you talk to her, see her moving around, watch her dealing with people and friends, is that Manal is full of energy, determined though extremely humble.

´´I am planning to study abroad. I would like to have a master degree in management, one day´´, she says but her situation is not easy. She does not know when she will ever be able to travel abroad as she is looking for a ´´scholarship anywhere´´ whilst no one helps Yemeni students, especially these days. Born in the 90s, she has already witnessed a war in 1994 between South and North Yemen, the Arab Spring of 2011, the revolution in 2014, a coup d´etat in January 2015, countless number of terroristic attacks and almost one year of aggression against her country. Not a simple aggression: Manal, like all Yemenis, has been under airstrikes almost every day since 2am of March 26, 2015 when neighbouring Saudi Arabia, along with a coalition of nine countries, decided to restore the government of fugitive president Abd Rabbuh Mansoor Hadi. No matter the circumstances, the sleepless nights because of the missiles pouring from the sky, you know tomorrow morning Manal will be at the office working – restlessly – with her best smile, paying attention to virtually everyone, running around.

When I first met Manal, she apologised she could not send me an email: her office was in an area under air-strikes. I received the email the day after, and it was Friday, weekend for her.

Sometimes I wonder if she gets any sleep at all. Manal has opened a group in Facebook: Yemeni Peace & Coexistence where peace and coexistence are words she personally chose (and she likes to stress it) and is busy online till late, discussing important issues, never forgetting anyone´s birthday or need, uniting Yemenis.

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One year ago Manal started working, as Project Manager, at the Rehabilitation and Care Fund for People with Disabilities in Sanaá. The job would be difficult in any moment in a country like Yemen where there is virtually no national health service, 50% of the population lives below the poverty line, where lack of food, water, electricity, basic infrastructure is the reality on the ground. The incomprehensible war waged on her country has basically devastated everything. According to the United Nations, Yemen is witnessing the worst humanitarian crises of our times.

Her enthusiasm, when talking about her job, what she sees every day, is cracked by a deep sorrow: ´´The tragedy of this aggression on people with disabilities in Yemen is apocalyptic. They are suffering and have been forced to face many obstacles during these past, harsh, twelve months. It´s like a horrible, nightmarish year with the killing of thousands of innocent people.´´

´´I am particularly concerned about the impact of this war on people who have to deal with physical disabilities for the rest of their life and this includes visual and hearing disabilities. We had an unprecedented increase in auditory disabilities, for instance, and it is a result of the pressure generated by massive explosions. Visual disabilities are usually a result of sharpers and cluster bombs which cause strong pressure leading to the explosion of windows with a direct attack on one or both eyes.

Physical disabilities regard, mainly, amputation of legs or hands as a result of direct injuries, that is: being hit by flying fragments or collapsing buildings. Many of the people seeking help – and now considered handicapped – were injured by the internationally banned cluster bombs.

Appalling, for the first time in our history, we have started witnessing new-born babies with birth defects, babies mentally impaired or even having cancer due to the gases and toxic emissions of bombs dropped on the entire country´´.

Manal gains strength when she talks about the Fund´s role: ´´We offer all the requirements needed, starting from basic prosthetic devices such as bathroom chairs, crutches, medical mattresses to avoid skin ulcer, walkers, optical sticks for blind people. We provide medicines for most of the disabled who are registered with the Fund and arrange for surgeries in public and private hospitals, all sponsored by us. When possible, we finance medical trips abroad if the disability or the case cannot be handled in Yemen.´´

She adds that the Fund sponsors and provides physical therapy services throughout a network of over 25 centres in various governatorates. Educational services are a huge pride for Manal: ´´We take care of circa 120 associations and centres which provide an academic platform allowing the disabled to study. The project stretches throughout large portions of Yemen and grants scholarships for postgraduated studies.´´ When I ask her who is financing all these activities, Manal replies: ´´The Fund used to generate its income from donating companies and here comes the disaster! Most of the companies have been destroyed by the air strikes and we lost all the support. We can no longer offer even the basic assistance to anyone and the main issue is that the number of disabled people is increasing due to this unjust war.´´ Every day Manal goes to her office and knows there will be something like 100 new people asking for help. ´´It is heartbreaking´´, she admits, ´´when you know you can do little for anyone´´. But she is never discouraged, at least not for long. Manal has been writing to all organisations abroad. Personal letters, signed with her name, asking for help in the name of the Fund.

Today Manal has been busy with one of the biggest achievements of the Fund: the graduation party for 26 hearing impaired students who graduated in architecture and engineering. Thinking all this happened in Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world, and in time of war, you can only shiver with pride and emotion.
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´´There are so many things I want to accomplish in the future. I want to continue working in the humanitarian field, especially relating to people with the special needs, especially working close to the poor with disabilities. I want to travel abroad, have a master degree in management, gain many information from different important people, return to Yemen and help my country.´´

When I ask her if I could use her real name, Manal, in the article, she smiles: ´´You can use my real name and my last name too. My name is Manal Al Marwani. ´´

Rehabilitation and care Fund for people with disabilities Republic of Yemen-Sana’a Bayt Meyad – behind the office of Education – Al-Sabyen Directorate Tel: 00967-1-619774 Fax: 00967-1-619231/5

Stuck in Eidomeni

Eidomeni, Greek-FYROM border, March 2016

A baby was born at the border, in a tent, in the mud. Can it get any worse than this?
Of course. You can come to life, still trapped in Syria, in the middle of the street under the infamous barrel bombs. Or crossfire.
Or while the building is collapsing.
Or die soon after because of a barrel bomb, crossfire, collapsing of a building.
As in Yemen, you can come to life in a cave, because the airstrikes are so bad your mother cannot reach hospital.
Hospital, that is: favorite target of this war. Not worth an unsafe ride to an unsafe hospital.
There is no limit to how bad it can get. Our imagination seems not to be evil enough. Reality is unbeatable.
Life continues in Eidomeni. A baby was born in a tent, in the mud, in the cold.

And now what?

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photo: AP

The borders continue to be closed.
We will have children, even newborn ones, surrounded by barbedwire and cold, mud. Stomachs filled with hunger, children taking care of younger brothers and sisters to help collapsing parents. Broken shoes, stringless. Filthy clothes, no water. No food, no toys, no medicines.
Keep the borders closed. Have a police officer defending us, just like this.
I wonder where do all the tears of the children go, once they evaporate?

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Photograph by Iker Pastor

 

Our Continent of 550 million people cannot absorb 500.000 refugees.
Greed and racism know no math.

Nizar Ali

Nizar Ali, Syrian artist

 

 

 

Punctum, the detail

It’s the punctum, in a photograph, that holds our gaze.
According to French philosopher and writer  Roland Barthes in his La Chambre Claire,  it’s often no more than a detail where the message gets through.

I gaze at what is missing

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The care of a keffyeh wrapping the baby

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The eyes

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Missing a home, a baby, hope for the future.
The details of one year of war on Yemen through the eyes of this man

To Federica Mogherini

To Federica Mogherini
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
federica.mogherini@ec.europa.eu

Dear Representative,

in Eidomeni, Greece, on the border with Macedonia, you queue for anything.
For a piece of bread, for some water, to go to the bathroom.
In the mud, in the cold, in the pouring rain.
The conditions are extreme, outrageous and those who pay the price are always the youngest, the weakest.
We wonder why during these months of catastrophic humanitarian disaster you have never found half a day to go there.
Or to Lesbos where every day children drown.
Or to Athens which has turnt into a refugee camp.

We are writing asking you to remedy as soon as possible, to give meaning and dignity to your institutional role, to intervene with all the means available on the Commission and the European Parliament for the immediate opening of humanitarian corridors and take a clear position condemning the closure of the Balkan route.